11 Border Women Begin Hunger Strike Today at White House

Posted by admin on Nov 8th, 2010

Washington : DC : USA | Nov 08, 2010

Video link here

La Mujer Obrera begins a hunger stride today at the White House to call for federal support of programs that foster the economic development of women. Eleven women from the U.S.-Mexico border launch a hunger strike at noon today in front of the White House. The effort is a call to federal decision-makers to establish immediate and long-term strategies to support community-led development of the nation’s poorest region. The women, who have experienced firsthand the violence, poverty and unemployment engulfing the Ciudad Juarez/El Paso border region criticize federal policy that is focused on border security initiatives “short sighted.”

Despite violent tragedy in Ciudad Juarez and profound poverty in El Paso, the women utilize grassroots economic development of their communities to create long term security. They allege that their communities have been dismissed by federal policy makers as “unfortunate but necessary casualties” of international trade and immigration policies and the so-called “war on drugs.”

The El Paso women, whose families span the U.S.-Mexico border, are members of La Mujer Obrera. This non-profit organization is dedicated to development and advocacy of Mexican migrant women workers.

The organization has received awards and international acclaim. But now, they say their 29 year record of accomplishments as well as their future plans face “profound risk.” Their hunger strike seeks to draw attention to the need they feel for a policy of federal investment in local development efforts.

As part of the opening ceremony today, the women plan to sign a letter to President Obama demanding a policy justice and equity. The text of the letter outlines their plight and their call.

Text of Letter to President Obama:

Today, we, representatives of El Paso women whose families span the US Mexico border and who have experienced firsthand the violence, poverty and unemployment engulfing the border region, are launching a hunger strike in front of the White House at noon.

We border women have had enough of the violent tragedy in Ciudad Juarez and the profound poverty in El Paso. Along with other women on the border, we are creating long term security through grassroots economic development of our communities, which have been dismissed as “unfortunate but necessary casualties” of international trade and immigration policies and the “war on drugs.”

But our accomplishments and plans are now at profound risk because of a lack of federal investment.

We call on you and your Administration to establish immediate and long-term strategies of community-led development in the nation’s poorest region, the Southwest Border.

Billions have been authorized for jobs benefitting mostly men in the construction industry and border. U.S. transnationals operating maquilas and those seeking to profit from the region’s violence and poverty are reaping millions. Yet the border struggles with persistent poverty (now exceeding 30% of the general population), 10%+ unemployment, and even higher rates for women workers and their families.

In response, we border women have pursued our own version of security and employment, on both sides of the border. La Mujer Obrera’s social enterprise daycare, restaurant, festival marketplace in El Paso and network of artisans in Mexico exemplify border women creating jobs and wanting to break the cycles of poverty and violence.

Furthermore, we and other women’s organizations on the border have extensive plans for comprehensive development including:

*Creation of jobs and businesses and sustainable community economic development motors

*Workforce training and life long learning linked to enhanced adult functional literacy

*Education embedded within a supportive community and family environment for infants through advanced college studies

*Promotion of, and full access to, comprehensive preventive and primaryhealth education and services

*Food security that links urban and rural communities, and ties health and nutrition education to access to culturally appropriate affordable local food sources

*Access to multi-media technologyinfrastructure and capacity building that bridges the “digital divide” engulfing Latino and low-income families and communities, especially on the border

*Building and rehabbing affordablehousing and community infrastructure, supportive of myriad family and community formats (single family, multi-family, senior, mixed income, etc), but engendering healthy and sustainable family and community dynamics and using cutting-edge sustainable green design and construction strategies

*Arts and culture that celebrates creativity while nurturing individual and community growth and understanding

*Civic engagement that underscores the critical linkage between an informed involved populace and a healthy sustainable community development process

*Diverse modes of transportation that foster communities and promote health and environmental security.

But to achieve these plans and sustain our existing development efforts, an immediate investment is needed.

Funding for the implementation of the Southwest Border Regional Commission, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, urgently needs to be appropriated. However we understand the funding challenges that you and Congress face, after the results of November 2nd elections.

For those reasons, as critical next steps towards that ultimate goal, we seek your immediate action to

1) Organize a national summit to identify public-private initiatives in support of border women’s efforts to restore their communities from the damaging effects of international trade and immigration policies, and the current “war on drugs” and for the eventual implementation of the Southwest Border Regional Commission.

2) Provide urgently needed economic sustainability support for women and their organizations whose development achievements and future plans are now in jeopardy

Women’s conditions on the border are urgent, and we are demanding justice and equity now. It’s not just about La Mujer Obrera in El Paso, Texas. This is a struggle by women on the border, and our right to a better future for our community.

Comments are closed.